UN human rights experts have called on the authorities in Iran to stop intimidating journalists as the country is preparing for elections early next year.
Ahmed Shaheed, who is the special rapporteur on Iran, said that he was concerned at what he said appeared to be a new crackdown on freedom of expression and the media.
The recent arrests of five journalists were particularly worrying, he said.
They have been accused of taking part in an “infiltration network linked to hostile Western governments”.
The journalists – including Afarine Chitsaz, Ehssan Mazandarani, Saman Safarzai, and Issa Saharkhiz – were detained by plainclothes members of the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence units on 2 November.
More than a dozen other journalists and social media activists have also reportedly been summoned for interrogation by the Iranian authorities.
“The government of Iran should not silence critical or dissenting voices under the guise of vague and unsubstantiated national security concerns,” Mr Shaheed said.